both sides - was one of the highlights. But we can't discount the unique offerings of the land of the All Blacks and of the tailless bird. NZ is the closest thing to visiting Samoa - at least in terms of the people and the food. And for those two alone, I can travel to NZ anytime. We do however have some pet peeves about the country, like ubiquitous roundabouts and traffic lights, narrow road lanes, small cars, driving on the "wrong" side instead of the right side (lol!), lack of free wi-fi, etc. But those are minor dislikes compared to our many likes and delights.
We looove the foods. Seafood like fresh oysters and mussels. Poly/Samoan foods were a big draw for us. The kekepua'a (pork buns) that we got at one of the bakeries (I think in Otahuhu) were the bomb! I mean, with the first bite, it transfixed me back to my Leifiifi and Samco years in Apia when the kekepua'a was the legit and kosher after school snack. And a kekepua'a is not complete without a faguigu lapo'a (large bottle of soft drink), so, yeess, I bought one.
The children walking home in their school uniforms was nostalgic. At a Polynesian store (one of many), a few students were huddling to pool some change to buy pagikeke (round pancakes) for an after school snack. It again reminded me of when I was a student in Apia and how some school buddies and I used to hang out at the market in Savalalo with its many stalls selling pancakes of different colors. The vendors used food coloring to promote the color - and hopefully the flavor and taste - of their commodity. Tapping the top of the sefe (safe/cabinet) by the seller and calling "pagikeke kama/keige" (buy some pancakes sir/ma'am) was the usual risible sales beckon.
We enjoyed our trip to be with our Mom one last time! Thank you everyone for your love and generosity.
Tino pai. Ka kite ano!